PETALING JAYA: Mariamman Kumar has been a taxi driver for almost 10 years, yet he barely earns enough to put food on the table for his family.
Contributing to Socso is the last thing on his mind although he realises the importance of having insurance coverage.
“It is hard, every day is hard. It is not like we receive many customers. There are days when we just have to stay in our car, getting no customers.
“There are days when we only earn RM30 for the entire day. What can we do?
“The money that we earn is very precious, although it is not that much. We have many other priorities to focus on,” the 45-year-old told FMT when asked to comment on the statement by Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran that about 93% of e-hailing and taxi drivers do not have insurance coverage although they are categorised as a high-risk group.
Kulasegaran said these drivers must contribute to the Self-Employment Social Security Scheme through Socso beginning next year.
Mariamman said he was aware of the importance of insurance and would like to contribute to Socso if he could afford it as he, too, worried for his family’s well-being should anything happen to him.
However, he disagreed with the government’s decision to work out a mechanism to bar drivers from renewing their licences if they do not contribute to Socso, saying this would be unfair to cabbies.
“We know the importance of having insurance, but can they (the government) understand our problem? We don’t earn that much.
“If we earn a lot every day, we would have done it from the beginning. The government should help us figure this out instead of making such rules.”
Cabbie Ahmad Imran Ahmad Irshad, 40, also said he would have contributed to Socso a long time ago if he could afford it.
He said he was finding it tough just to have enough money for his family’s expenses as he was the sole breadwinner.
“The timing is not right. They introduce Socso to taxi drivers when the e-hailing drivers are starting to enter the industry.
“If only they introduced it a long time ago, we would have been able to afford to contribute to Socso, when our income was stable and not affected by GrabCar,” said Imran, adding that he had to use what little he earned on other priorities.
Mohamad Najimi Hamin, 56, said he had no insurance coverage despite having been a taxi driver for nearly 15 years.
He said when the directive first came out for taxi drivers to register for the insurance scheme, he had wanted to do so but had to defer the move as he did not have enough money.